Jet fuel represents a major expense and significant source of greenhouse gas emissions for an industry that has in recent years found itself in the spotlight because of its growing carbon footprint.
Two companies in the sector are making headlines for their efforts to improve fuel efficiency and shrink greenhouse gas emissions.
First, Boeing unveiled its 747-8 Intercontinental (pictured left) this week, a 467-seat jetliner the company claims is quieter and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the competition. The vessel achieves 16 percent better fuel economy than its predecessor, the 747-400. This translates to a 16 percent decline in per-passenger greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, the U.K.'s largest airline, EasyJet, revealed that it is applying a nano-technology coating to its aircraft to improve fuel efficiency. The coating is actually a polymer that bonds to the paint surface to reduce debris buildup. It is so lightweight that it only adds about four ounces of weight to the airplane, but could potentially trim fuel consumption by as much as 2 percent.
During the 12-month pilot test, the company will use the coating on eight airplanes and compare performance with the rest of the fleet. EasyJet claims its fleet is on average less than four years old, making it one of the youngest in Europe. As such, the company claims its planes produce 22 percent fewer emissions than traditional aircraft flying the same routes.
"If we can find new ways of reducing the amount of fuel used by our aircraft, we can pass the benefits onto our passengers by offering them low fares and a lower carbon footprint," EasyJet CEO Carolyn McCall said in a statement.